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Exclusive: DAYS OF OUR LIVES's Susan Seaforth Hayes On The Horton House Fire

Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie) has been central to the telling of the Horton house burning down on DAYS. She spoke with Digest about how she felt when she learned the fate the iconic set would suffer, how the powers-that-be quelled her depression over the decision and more.

Susan Seaforth Hayes, Bill Hayes


Flame And (Mis)fortune: Julie and Doug (Bill Hayes) were heartbroken as they watched a fire claim the Horton house.

What was your reaction when you read the Horton house was going up in flames in the script? “Oh, a great deal of depression, really. ‘How could we do that? What will happen to the Horton family, what’s left of it? Where will Doug and Julie go?’ It’s an anchor to the show. Then it was immediately made clear not to get too upset about it; it was immediately made clear for those of us who were deeply upset. That is simply because at one point some years ago, the Horton family home was set to be scrapped and burned and no longer visible on the show. The previous writers toyed with the idea of eliminating it. They were ready to ashcan the set and the whole concept. But it was saved. Cooler heads prevailed.”

You were told not to worry because they’re going to rebuild the home. Did that alleviate your depression? “Oh, yes. And I was interested in how it was all going to happen. ‘How much fire? Where would the fire be? Where would we all be?’ I’ve been involved in fire before, when they lit [Julie] up many years ago. I wasn’t looking forward to that experience again. But I would say that no one was endangered by the shots, and the shots looked great.”

Susan Seaforth Hayes

Where There’s Smoke: In 1979, Julie’s face was burned by Maggie’s oven.

You were heavily involved in the fire scenes. What was that like to play? “That was exciting to do. It’s exciting when they light up a bunch of fire pots all over the place you’ve been working in, and there are cameras and lights and you’re all in it. It’s rather stimulating, but it’s scary. It’s scary as hell. Then, you say, ‘Where are the screams going to go?’ It’s, ‘Look, then scream.’ Then, it’s, ‘No, no. Maybe you should scream as soon as you see it.’ So there was all that, and running up and down the Horton staircase.”

You’ve been working with Billy Flynn (Chad) a lot. How do you like the way Julie and Chad’s relationship has deepened and developed? “I’m loving it. I’m absolutely loving it. All of this is good and natural, the way it should be going stuff. And Billy and I are enjoying working together. We spend a lot of time talking together about all kinds of stuff. He has been on the show long enough that I’ve seen him grow and change. He really applies himself to the work seriously. Her really cares about the scenes and cares about the storylines. So that’s something that’s a pleasure to see. A couple of times he has impulsively, in moments of strong emotion, embraced me as someone who is reaching out to family during a hard time. It’s very touching, very sweet. We have more storyline coming up together.”

Susan Seaforth Hayes, Billy Flynn


Burn Unit: Seaforth Hayes is “absolutely loving” the deepended bond between Chad (Billy Flynn) and Julie.

Aside from his relationship with Kate, Chad doesn’t really have a mother figure in his life. Do you think Julie has sort of become that to him, another mother figure? “I guess all of the women on the show that are over 70 are motherly figures. They just don’t do much along those lines anymore. I’m happy to be a grandmotherly figure to everybody. Delighted!”

What can you tease about what happens after the Horton house fire? “The aftermath is long and interesting. There’s plot in there. The aftermath has quite a few surprises, and the return of a clean home. The return of a home is played out. I have a lot to do in those shows coming up following the fire. One of them is a nice plunge back into the history of the house; the history of Tom and Alice in the house, [Julie] and the kids, which I get to dwell on. When we got to the point of Julie talking about her grandmother, there was so much to say. It was so emotional for me, because of Francis [Reid, ex-Alice], and because I was raised by my grandmother and mother. So just [anticipating] the words, I started to choke up, and I’d worked very hard on the speeches. It meant so much to me. I went blank, which is unusual. I got up and had to walk around a little bit, try to calm down and say, ‘Now you can do this. You’ve done this before. This is the show. You do this.’ But it was hard, like the last scene I did with Billy [Hayes, ex-Doug, her real-life husband, who passed away in January]. But we’ll talk about that another time.”